Tag Archives: starts


Quince are botanically speaking, cousins to apple and pears. And wonderful – once cooked, turning red.

quince paste

16th century quince tree

16th century quince tree

Edward Johnson in The Wonderworking Providence of Sion’s Savior in New England of 1654 says,
“…so that in this poor Wilderness hath not onely equalized England in food, but goes beyond it in some places for the great plenty of wine and sugar, which is ordinarily spent, apples, pears, and quince tarts instead of their former Pumpkin Pies.”
– (p. 210, 1910 ed.)
We’ll get back to the ‘former Pumpkin Pie’ nonsense later….but there were Quince at the Stop & Shop…..
Van Gogh

These were painted by Van Gogh, not Stop & Shop

To make a slic’t Tart of Quinces, Wardens, Pears, Pippins, in slices raw of divers Compounds.
The foresaid fruits being finely pared, and slic’t in very thine slices; season them with beaten cinamon, and candied citron minced, candied orange, or both, or raw orange peel, raw lemon peel, fennil-seed, or caraway-seed or without any of these compounds or spices, but the fruits alone one amongst the other; put to ten pippins six quinces, six wardens, eight pears, and two pound of sugar; close it up, bake it; and ice it as the former tarts.
Thus you may also bake it in patty-pan, or dish, with cold butter paste.
– Robert May. The Accomplist Cook 1660
Quince Fede Galizia MILAN 1578 – 1630

Fede Galizia – Milano 1578-1630

This is what one of my quince tarts looked like

This is what one of my quince tarts looked like

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Filed under Pie, Wicked Wayback


I first learned about sourdoughs in elementary school  – they were the men who  went out to California prospecting gold out in ’49, and some of them ended up in Alaska, too.

This was a sourdough:



300,000 prospectors came West, and sourdough was the bread they made.Because of them,  this, too, is a sourdough:

Sourdough round from Boudin Bakery in San Francisco, using the same recipe since 1849.

Sourdough round from Boudin Bakery in San Francisco, using the same recipe since 1849.

the 49ers flapjack at

the 49ers flapjack at OHP – another way to use sourdough

OHP stands for Original Pancake House - which open 101 years after the Gold Rush

OHP stands for Original Pancake House – which open 101 years after the Gold Rush

and then there’s Charlie Chaplin  Gold Rush

This Gold Rush was the 1898 Yukon Rush, and the 49ers

This Gold Rush was the 1898 Yukon Rush

and speaking of 49ers…san_francisco_49ers_banner_flag_7930bigSo, quick review –

49ers are gnarly men looking for gold and/or a football team.

Sourdoughs are gnarly men looking for gold or a type of bread.

So, how, pray tell, did sourdough get so specialSpecial sorts of flour , special water, special starters, special temperatures and maybe some  special crocks and OH, the timing and OH, the temperatures and OH,  the worry…..

And I keep thinking, a bunch of guys, far from home and many fending for themselves for the first time ever, without a mother or a sister or a wife or a rooming house landlady or a nearby baker to buy their daily bread are figuring out sourdough without the benefit of modern science or a warehouses of stuff. Living in tents and working all day and drinking all night they MANAGE TO MAKE BREAD OUT OF THE STUFF. And we’re still eating it and talking about it.

The hard part, I think, is replicating these sorts of rough and inconsistent conditions if you’re a professional baker. Sometimes you have to wait, or adjust or the result is a little different – or a LOT different. The results are not always exactly the same. Fine for the home baker, not so fine for the shop baker.

So would you want to make a sourdough?

Is it the flavor? or the texture? The keeping qualities? The challenge?

Last month at the South Shore Locavores meeting  Rosa Galeno

Rosa Galeno

Rosa Galeno

was divvying up a lump of sourdough starter. I took a couple of tablespoons home in a Styrofoam coffee cup (I know, there’s a certain irony. Sometimes you use what you have, end of story) and I’ve been feeding it a little flour and a little water every so often ever since. It is now a cup full (large coffee size cup full) which is enough to use and enough to continue….the question is what to make? I thought I’d start with something quick, like English muffins, but it’s now ready to go. And I’m totally obsessed with griddle bread at the moment.

Does this sound totally casual? I certainly hope so.

There are TONS of books, articles and web resources for sourdough. Don’t let them scare you.

It’s bread.

That whole staff of life thing.

Before we start baking we’re going to contemplate it a little, prepare our heads for what our hands are going to learn.

If you’re the I want to read about it sort, I’m not going to send you to the myriad sourdough places, but instead to 52 loavesBill Alexander bakes the same loaf every week for a year. THAT’S how to learn to bake bread. Remember, the first 500 don’t count.

Start with the starter

Start with the starter

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Filed under Books, Bread

Dark and Handsome

happy birthday candles

Someone has a birthday….OK, we ALL have birthdays, whether we acknowledge them or not , but SOMEONE has a birthday today….and birthdays need cake.

Some people have particular cakes that they share for birthdays. Some people have favorites that are extra special for special occasions, but if you say, “BIRTHDAY CAKE” the only constant will be the candles. And even that isn’t always the same.


Make a wish!

Birthday cake is made special by the occasion of the birthday.  But sometimes the “This Day in History” makes you want the day to go by quickly….

On January 30th

in 1649

Charles I of England was executed

charles1_execution in 1948 – Mahatma Gandhi assassinated in New Delhi
in 1968 – The Viet Cong launched begin the Tet Offensive.
in 1969 The Beatles make their last public performance. (BTW -it was so NOT Yoko’s fault) and then in 1972 – Bloody Sunday  – you get the sad and sorry picture.

So this is a day the needs cake, birthday or no birthday.

One of the cookbooks I first bought when I went out on my own (and I’m pretty sure I got this at Woolworths, no less) was

Manners Quick and easy

RuthAnn Manners and William Manners The Quick and Easy Vegetarian Cookbook .

40s-old_woolworthsPlymouth MA

Woolworth’s in downtown Plymouth a few year before I went shopping there

Woolworth’s photo from http://www.jabezcorner.com/phs63/pictures.html 

 Much of it was indeed quick and easy and also good, which wasn’t always, or even often, the case in the late 70’s and early 80’s vegetarian cookbooks. That goes for quick and easy, but especially GOOD. There was a whole lot of far too undercooked brown rice in the ’60’s and ’70’s.

Their chocolate pound cake was what my not-crazy-about-frosting brother had as his birthday cake for several years. It’s also a good anytime cake. Ice cream or whipped cream are referred to as lily-gilders by the Manners, and they’re right – it doesn’t need heavy dairy products to be good, but it can make the day much better.

They call their chocolate pound cake Dark and Handsome…..what more could a girl ask for?

Dark and Handsome

A chocolate pound cake

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°
  2. Grease a* 8 ½ x 4 ½ x2 ½ inch loaf pan.
  3. 3.   Then in a Pyrex measuring** cup melt 1- 1 oz square unsweetened chocolate with 1 Tablespoon butter (I now use the microwave…)
  4. Sift together 1 cup AP flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder and a pinch of salt in a bowl.
  5. Crack 1 egg into the now not so terribly hot chocolaty melt and stir it in.
  6. Add milk (approximately ¾ cup) so that the chocolate/butter/egg milk equals one cup.
  7. Add the wets to the drys and mix thoroughly – no streaks.
  8. Scrape into the greased pan.
  9. Bake about 40-45 minutes or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  10. Cool on a rack and remove from the pan.  Serves 8. OR
  11. Eat directly from the pan with a spoon while still warm. Serves one (on a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, which will then be made significantly better.)

*Spellcheck wants to make this a an an and I disagree.

**or melt it in a whatever/however  and scrape it into a 1 cup measure to continue OR just mix in 3/4 cup of milk with the butter, chocolate and beaten egg and call it a day.


Walter Baker’s – local chocolate – Pa Flynn worked there – not designer or artisanal, but the one I reach for.

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Filed under Birthday, Holiday, The 1980's

Good Housekeeping

  1. What you want people to think when they come over
  2. A magazine since May 2, 1885.

    Good Housekeeping 1908

    Good Housekeeping 1908

  3. A Seal of Approval since 1909.

    Original 1909 seal of approval

    Original 1909 seal of approval

  4. A cookbook – mine is the 1963 edition.
    1963 edition of Good Housekeeping Cook Book

    1963 edition of Good Housekeeping Cook Book

    This is what the dust jacket looks like - I lost mine so long ago, I don't remember, but there's more then one image of this on the vintage cookbook e-bay place....

    This is what the dust jacket looks like – I lost mine so long ago, I don’t remember, but there’s more then one image of this on the vintage cookbook e-bay place….


But this is not just ANY cookbook….it is my FIRST cookbook.

Christmas, 1971.

This was a gift from my Aunt Eileen. She was my Grampy’s sister, so properly my great- aunt, although she might have better approved of the title ‘Grand-Aunt’.  She gave me books by the shopping bag full, to read what I was ready for, and to have something left for later.

Fill with books and call it Christmas - I learned to wrap from Auntie Eileen....

Fill with books and call it Christmas – I learned to wrap from Aunt Eileen….

She said cook books were great to read.

Every recipe is a story. And they don’t all have happy endings

Truer words were never spoken. Just because it’s written as recipe doesn’t mean it’s any good. Or that you’ll like it, no matter how precise your measurement or how gourmet your ingredients.

The foreword is by Willie Mae Rogers and in many ways shaped how I approach food and cooking and the whole foodways spectrum.

“A cookbook can be many things – depending on its author and its purpose. The only one element all are sure to possess is recipes.

This cookbook almost defies classification. It is so many things. It is years of Good Housekeeping’s knowledge of and respect for food – its preparation, its serving, its role in family life.

It is a loving compilation of favorite recipes from our famous cookbook series, a complete chapter of our teenage Susan’s cherished step by step directions for fabulous dishes, more quick-and-easy recipes than ever before. It is what to do to make those ever-present leftovers seem new and exciting. It is how to cook for that magic number – two. It is cooking with utmost confidence because the recipes have been tested and proved beyond any question.

It is the tremendous contribution of the food industry to our country – and the zealous care and protection of our government agencies.

Overwhelmingly, it is American women. It is the grandmother who writes from a small town in Montana to say: “My grandchildren’s birthday cakes have made me famous. I owe it all to Good Housekeeping.

It is the young bride who valiantly copes with the complexities of a new marriage, an outside job, no knowledge of cooking, and who says to us: Dear Good Housekeeping, what would I ever do without you?”

It is the “older” woman who says: “Now that my children are grown, now that our budget is bigger, I can truly enjoy and use all those wonderful ideas for gourmet dishes. Thank you for your food pages.”

It is the young high school or college graduate who writes to us: Dear Good Housekeeping, I’m being married in June. My mother says you taught her to cook. Please, will you teach me too?”

It is a Foods and Cookery staff that almost defies belief in its dedication and devotion, its enthusiasm and creativity.

But perhaps more than anything else, this cookbook is the spirit – the caring – the untiring giving of a magnificent food editor and a great and gracious lady, Dorothy B. Marsh.

It comes to you with the gratitude and best wishes of all of us at Good Housekeeping.”

The Chapter titles (The Story of Meat; The Best of Susan; Dreamy Desserts, The Macaroni Family….) and then sections like ‘Menu Planning Can Be Fun’ and so many of the sample menus……

There’s been some recent interest with vintage (I admit I’m having a hard time referring to my childhood as vintage) recipes which shouldn’t come back.

May I submit for your consideration :

Roast-Beef Hearty Party Salad

illustration from p. 311 ; recipe on p. 459


I have never been the least bit tempted to reconstruct this particular tableau

For 4 serving – 3 # of sirloin ….and then there’s the LIMA BEANS.

Lima beans turn up ALL OVER in this cookbook.

I come from baked bean people and pasta and beans (pasta fazoole) people, but not from lima bean people.  So much of this cookbook was like a visit from another planet when I was reading – and re-reading it – back in the day.

What’s missing from this book, besides the dust jacket, is smudges and smears and other evidence that I’ve ever cooked from it. I might very well have saved most of my cooking for other books, and newspaper clippings and  pages from magazines, and maintained this as my how to cook reference manual.

And I continue to view cookbooks as short story collections.

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Filed under Books, Influencers, The 1970's

The Second Day of Christmas

Day late and dollar short….
the dot dot dot is for you, Andrew.

I was going to begin on the First Day of Christmas, being a first, but life happened.

It seems the post nasal drip/sympathy sore throat for my son’s friend who had his tonsils removed thing that I was actively ignoring and in total denial about on Christmas Day was actual sickness.

So to my entire family, all four generations gathered in the old home town for Christmas – sorry.

I had been scribbling away all sorts of things about firsts and beginnings and starts (and fits and starts).

But most of life is in the middle of things, so I’m going to start there.

I’ve spent the last few decades researching food history  – an unlikely story in the first place and the only logical place for me to end up as well – and the dream document, the ONE THING that would make it accurate in every detail, would be some sort of record of one of the people connected with the site.

If only they had blogs in the past.

So this is a record of the present, full of food and how it got to my table, and what I think about it all, as well as the food related things, which is just about everything.

The problem is, I have a real short span of attention, and I’m not very good at navel gazing. Did I mention the easily distracted thing? Is that a squirrel????

And I have opinions. About everything. And I’m willing to share. None of them are carved in stone, and I’m always ready to modify/update/change and stand corrected.

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